Oilman & Philanthropist
Walter Hugo Helmerich III was planning to be a teacher. Those plans changed in 1950 when he met the Hollywood actress Peggy Dow at an opening night party of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. As Walt was pursuing Peggy, his father Walter Hugo Helmerich II asked Walt to attend Harvard Business School. Following Harvard, Walt joined Helmerich & Payne and turned its wildcatting business practices into a company that grew into a leading worldwide contract drilling company. And he had Peggy Dow Helmerich by his side.
On Dec. 1, 1960 Walt was 37 years old and named president of Helmerich & Payne and became the chief architect of H&P’s worldwide operations, real estate dealings and other activities. When H&P bought Utica Square in 1964, Walt soon moved to make it an upscale shopping experience. While Walt pursued nationally known stores, 30 percent of the shops in Utica Square were reserved for Tulsa grown businesses.
Tulsa University, Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma University have all been recipients of gifts from The Helmerich Foundation. Grade schools, high schools, parks and playground equipment as well as Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Museum have all enjoyed the giving spirit of Walt and Peggy Helmerich, as have libraries and hospitals and churches including a little church in Ketchum, Oklahoma with the gift of a piano.
Walt Helmerich was the inspiration for this Oklahoma oral history website… VoicesofOklahoma.com.
Interview with Walter Hugo Helmerich, III
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: December 2008 and April 2009 in the board room of Helmerich & Payne
Date Published: October 5, 2011
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.